Live from Atlanta: Semifinal Saturday
Two Americans are into the final of the Atlanta Tennis Championships (much to the delight of the fans), but not the two everyone expected. John Isner took care of business (barely) on his way to the title match, but he does not have a rematch of his U.S. Open upset of Andy Roddick on his hands–instead he will face Mardy Fish. Appropriately, Isner and Fish have been the two best players all week and this is the final matchup that should be taking place.
(2) John Isner d. Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-3: Isner saved two match points his tournament opener against Gilles Muller and he almost had the tables turned on him against Anderson. After losing the first set, Anderson fought off two match points in the tiebreaker (with an ace, then with a backhand pass) and took it 9-7. With court surface temperatures reportedly reaching 147 degrees, Isner looked done both during and after the second set. But he bounced back in the third and one break at 4-3 was enough for him to advance.
(6) Mardy Fish d. (1) Andy Roddick 7-6(5), 6-3: As you can see from the handshake/hug pics, this was a matchup between best friends on tour. Fish had been on fire coming in (Queen’s Club final, Newport title, three straight-set wins in Atlanta) and tonight was no different. Roddick did not play his best, but Fish probably would have won anyway (Roddick even said in his press conference that this was the best he had played in his three matches this week). Fish lost two points on serve at 6-3 and 6-4 in the first-set tiebreaker, but he won it with a perfect drop-volley at 6-5. In set two he was simply the better player.
Scott Lipsky and Rajeev Ram d. John Isner and James Blake 7-6(5), 7-6(5): This match did not start until 6:15 due to the length of the Isner match, so it had to be moved from Stadium to Court 1 (because Roddick-Fish started while this match was in progress). Lipsky and Ram gave back a break in the first set and Isner and Blake did the same in the second set, and the doubles specialists were too good in both tiebreakers. You could tell Isner wanted to win, but he won’t be too disappointed that he does not have to play two matches in the scorching heat on Sunday.
Four interesting press conferences as well with the four singles semifinalists. Isner was actually the least enthused of the four; he was probably still gassed from the match. Roddick seemed to be content with what he got out of the week (match practice; three three-set matches) and was obviously thrilled for Fish. Anderson and Fish are both really excited about their current level of play, so that is nice to see.